Here’s an interesting conundrum. We know that sometimes it feels difficult to get inspired and generate new creative ideas. But what do you do when you have too much inspiration?
Staring at a blank canvass, whether metaphorically or literally, can be a daunting experience. We have previously discussed the notion that, when you can’t think of what to do, the best strategy can be simply to do ‘something’. But what do you do when your mind is overrun with ideas?
Oddly enough, the solution is very similar. You maybe have an idea for a book, a play, a painting, a concerto, a sculpture, a dance, a film. You may even have several of these hit you all at once. Annoyingly, that seems to be how inspiration works. Like the proverbial buses, you wait for a creative idea to turn up and three arrive all at once.
Make a Start
Don’t despair. Your rush of inspiration doesn’t mean everything has to be done immediately, even though it may feel that way. What is important is that you make a start. You can’t be in three places at once, so why consider tackling three creative projects at the same time? Choose one of them and get started.
As with all artistic ventures, you will doubtless experience a surge of productivity as you begin to realise your vision. This will inevitably be followed by a period of hard grind and then, at some point, you will very likely hit the doldrums. First of all, let’s concentrate on your current state of heightened creative ‘flow’.
Get some of your ideas down on paper or recorded in some way. Sketch out a road-map of what you have in mind. How this looks will depend on the medium concerned. The main thing is to commit something to a format you can retrieve and refer to when needed.
If you are overloaded with ideas for multiple projects, then outline a plan for each. Though you may now be impatient to get cracking, it is a good idea to have all your ideas recorded before starting on realising any one of them. Once you have the bones of your creations laid down, then you can choose one to make a start on.
What happens next will depend on how you, personally, work best. You may find it most productive to tackle concurrent projects in parallel. Alternatively, you may find it better to work exclusively on one, safe in the knowledge the others are planned and waiting for when you are ready to return to them.
If you prefer the parallel approach, you may – perhaps – write an intro for a book, mark out the layout of a painting and decide on a sound pallet for a composition. Then, you could go back and work on a first chapter, block-in some background to your painting and find an opening theme for your composition. And so on.
Within the world of education, this decision is more-or-less made for us. The school timetable means that pupils have their time managed for them, to a large extent. The parallel-activities approach is an intrinsic part of the school day. And children have the benefit of both boundless imagination and the ability to quickly change from one subject to another.
Energy & Motivation
Whichever way you choose to work, pay attention to your levels of energy and motivation. If, whilst grappling with the wording of your book intro, a melody for your musical opus pops into your head, its OK to ‘swap channels’ and go with the composing. Whilst you are in this creative mood, make the most of your self-motivation and enjoy the moment, wherever it takes you.
It’s all too easy to spend time worrying about what we ‘should’ be doing. When we have the luxury of being inspired to do something, then its really OK to drop everything else and have fun with that. And if the creative rush leads to multiple ideas at once, all the better. Though this may not be your ‘job’, you are being productive in the truest sense.
You could think of this as being like a harvest. When the trees are full of fruit and the fields burgeoning with wheat, it’s important to get them safely stored. That, way when the winter comes, you have supplies to draw upon.
The same is true of your creative impulses. Grab them while they are fresh and make sure you have somewhere safe to keep them. That way, when the creative drought hits, you’ll have something to fall back on.
A Little Restraint
Whereas you may want to eat all your fruit in one go, this would be bad for you health and leave you with nothing for the lean times. Similarly, when you are full of creative ideas, it’s important to find ways of storing these for when they are needed. A little restraint now can make life easier later on.